Patriots

LeBron, Carmelo, Wade and Paul to host tour

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LeBron, Carmelo, Wade and Paul to host tour

From Comcast SportsNet

LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony are going homeand bringing friends with them.

With no end to the NBA lockout in sight, the All-Star group is set to lead a four-game Homecoming Tour, starting with a matchup in James hometown of Akron, Ohio on Dec. 1, followed by a Dec. 4 game in New Orleans, a Dec. 7 game in Chicago and culminating with a Dec. 10 contest in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

James, Paul, Wade and Anthony are committed to play in all four games of the tour, which was announced early Monday. Proceeds from the tourwhich will include events such as food drives, educational outreach programs and clinics in each citywill benefit the four headlining players charitable foundations, and tour sponsor Google Plus will stream each game live.

Itll be very neat, Wade told The Associated Press. First of all, this is something we talked about doing a long time ago as players. To have an opportunity to go to these different cities that were from, to bring basketball to them at a high level and also have a charitable component in each city and to be with the guys, itll be cool. Its something were looking forward to.

Tickets for the first three games go on sale Tuesday. Tickets for the East Rutherford game will be on sale Wednesday.

The rosters for the four games will likely change considerably in each city. James will play a significant role in organizing the Akron game, as will Paul in New Orleans, Wade in Chicago and Anthony at East Rutherford.

Chris Boshwho, along with James and Wade, makes up the so-called Big 3 with the Miami Heat, is expected to play in all four games. Bosh, along with James, Wade, the New Orleans guard Paul, the New York Knicks forward Anthony, Heat forward Udonis Haslem and others have been part of a rigorous training camp in Oregon for players represented by Creative Artists Agency since late last week.

Im sore, Wade said from Oregon. But thats why we set it up this way. We want to get into work mode. When we get into the tour, we want to play. We want to be equipped to do that. We dont want to just run up and down the court and jack up shots. We want to get into the things we need to do when it comes to strength, defense, all those things you usually do in training camp. So were getting into that mindset.

Theres been no shortage of exhibitions featuring NBA players during the lockout, which is now in its 21st week and has already led to the cancellation of more than 300 gamesroughly one-quarter of a full season. Talks broke off last week after players declined an offer that the NBA said would have raised salaries considerably, which apparently wasnt enough to convince player reps that it was the right deal.

The principals involved in this say the tour will be different from most offseason exhibitions in many ways, notably the extensive charitable aspects.

I am so excited to have this opportunity to participate in this tour, Anthony said in a press release. To couple two of the things I love to do play basketball and give backis special. This is just the beginning of a movement to facilitate change in our communities and I am happy to be a part of a group of guys willing to lead the charge.

Events begin Nov. 29 in New York with a court dedication and food drive, before the group moves to Akron for events the following day that include a Wheels for Education programsomething James is extensively involved with in an effort to help keep kids from dropping out of high schooland a basketball clinic at the Boys & Girls Club bearing the two-time NBA MVPs name.

I am really proud of the work were doing in Akron and know what this tour means for the community, James said.

Paul will host an education-themed event and a clinic in New Orleans on Dec. 2, in advance of the game there two nights later. Wade hosts two events for charity in Chicago on Dec. 6, and another clinic is planned for New York on Dec. 9.

Being able to play the game I love alongside my friends as well as raising money for charity is a win-win situation, Paul said.

Wade said another element hes looking forward to is simply being around NBA players on a full-time basis again, if only for a couple of weeks. While he remains hopeful that much of the season can be saved, hes also not necessarily optimistic that hell be back in a Heat uniform again and trying for another NBA finals trip anytime soon.

Were approaching it as basketball, Wade said. Were not doing it so people dont forget our names. Were really doing this to continue to make an impact in the communities that we go to and also to show that we love this game, were going to continue to play it and that this is something we all decided to do together. So thats what makes this special.

Five quick thoughts: Patriots put it all together against Falcons

Five quick thoughts: Patriots put it all together against Falcons

FOXBORO -- Here are some quick-hitting thoughts on the Patriots' 23-7 victory over the Falcons on Sunday night.

1) If the Patriots attacked this game believing that the best defense is a good offense . . . they were right. 

They controlled the ball for more than 18 minutes in the first half and ran for 92 yards on 18 carries (a 5.1 yards per attempt average) with four backs sharing the load. Rex Burkhead gave the team a spark with his speed and vision in his first game back since suffering a rib injury in Week 2. The success the Patriots had running the ball had the added benefit of opening up the play-action pass game and it helped protect Tom Brady. After taking two sacks in the first quarter and a monster hit (penalized for roughing the passer) from Adrian Clayborn in the second, Brady was fairly well-protected. 

PATRIOTS 23, FALCONS 3

2) Tom Brady lamented the fact that he hadn't been more accurate in the red zone of late, but he was better in that area to help the Patriots pad their early lead. 

The Patriots went 2-for-3 in the red zone through the first half, with Brady hitting on touchdown passes to Brandin Cooks (which looked more like an end-around hand-off) and James White. Brady still had moments of inaccuracy. The pass he lofted before being croaked by Clayborn was a bad one that was intercepted. (The pick was wiped after the penalty was enforced.) He threw behind Chris Hogan on multiple occasions. He also had an odd throw float well out of bounds that was intended for Rob Gronkowski. But for the most part he was on point, completing 21 of his first 29 throws for 241 yards. 

3) The Patriots defense showed up in critical moments time and time again in this one. 

They stopped the Falcons twice on fourth down, and they allowed Matt Ryan and his offense to convert on just two of their first nine third-down plays. The Falcons coaching staff deserves plenty of criticism for going for it when they did, but with a banged-up secondary, going against the reigning MVP and one of the best receivers in the league, the Patriots responded.

4) Bill Belichick's run defense was particularly impressive in the first half on Sunday night, helping keep the Falcons from getting anything going until it was too late. 

They allowed just 30 yards on nine attempts in the first two quarters (a 3.3 yards per attempt average), with Malcom Brown, Trey Flowers, Kyle Van Noy, Lawrence Guy and Deatrich Wise all making impressive stops at, near or behind the line of scrimmage. 

5) The Patriots suffered a handful of injuries to key players that will be worth keeping an eye on moving forward. 

Malcom Brown left the game in the second half with an ankle injury. Their top defensive tackle this season, Brown's absence may be one reason for why the Falcons were able to pump up their rushing yardage to triple digits by midway through the fourth quarter. Dont'a Hightower also left the game and was announced as questionable to return with a shoulder injury. Hightower has had a history of shoulder issues and so perhaps this is an older injury that was re-aggravated. Chris Hogan also left the game briefly and was evaluated for a concussion, according to NBC's television broadcast. He later returned.

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